Week #133 saw Cure win the Korean cup, getting his first victory in the region since Week #117 in April. In Europe, MaxPax came out on top to make it four wins in six weeks, while North America saw ByuN win his third cup in a row.
Korean Cup participation was unusually low with just 13 total players in the bracket. However, there were still a handful of Code S-tier players in Dark, ByuN, and Cure, joined by some of familiar WTL faces such as Percival, Firefly, Cyan, Jieshi, MacSed, and Rex.
Little of note happened in the earlier rounds except for Russian player EastToss taking a map off of Cure. The bracket progressed largely as expected, though Cyan going 2-0 against Percival might have raised a couple of eyebrows (it wasn't really a surprise considering the two players' recent form).
The reduced participation gave us a pretty big mismatch of Dark vs Cyan in the semifinals, and the DPG Zerg won 2-0 as expected. The other semifinal was more competitive on paper with Cure facing ByuN, but it also resulted with Cure taking a 2-0 victory.
Many viewers would have picked Dark to be the favorite against Cure in the finals, the old online-Cure showed up to play for a day. The DPG Terran fell behind 1-2 to his teammate, but was able to rally and take a 3-2 victory. The win brings Cure's KR gold medal count to 16, narrowing the gap on 1st place Zest who has 21 wins.
Upset(s) of the day: There was not any major upset in this cup outside of EastToss taking a map off of Cure, but it's not uncommon for top players to drop a map against underdogs while still winning the series. Cure beating Dark might actually be the biggest upset considering their performances in major events, but Dark has a tendency to underperform in online cups.
This edition of the European cup was less stacked than usual, since most pros were still traveling after the conclusion of HomeStory Cup XXI. As expected, Big Gabe still found a way to play a day after the end of the tournament (living in the same country probably helps) and he was the main Terran representative alongside SpeCial and TIME. Zerg was mostly represented by old veterans such as Nerchio or DIMAGA (but also the youngster Iba), while Protoss had the deepest field of players including MaxPax, Harstem, Krystianer, Gerald, and Arrogfire among others.
The cup being less competitive than usual allowed some players to go further than typically expected, but the later rounds were populated by a familiar crew of players. MaxPax, whose online-only nature kept him away from HSC, went undefeated against the likes of Iba, Harstem, and HeroMarine on his way to the finals.
The bottom side of the bracket had a more international flair, with SpeCial and TIME taking down a slew of European players before meeting in the semifinals. TIME ended up winning 2-1, earning the right to face MaxPax for the European title.
The atypical Denmark vs China clash in the EU-cup finals (VOD) was not particularly close as MaxPax simply swept TIME 3-0 to complete a perfect run without a single map loss. This gave MaxPax his 11th victory in Europe, behind Reynor and ShoWTimE who have 14, but still far behind Clem (34) and HeroMarine (47).
Upset(s) of the day: Arrogfire beating Cyan in the RO32 was my upset of the day in a tournament that didn't have that many surprises. The French Protoss had around 40:60 odds of winning according to Aligulac—hardly the biggest upset we've seen in these cups, but the pickings were slim on the day.
The NA cup was also affected by HSC-related travel, but Dark's participation somewhat made up for the absence of players like Clem and Reynor. Terran had ByuN, Cure, and SpeCial as its notable players, while Protoss had EU Cup winner MaxPax, Firefly, Gerald, and Nina as its top representatives.
The weakened international player pool allowed the bracket to be dominated by Korean players. MaxPax had a chance to make a splash in the upper half of the bracket, but was defeated 2-1 by Cure in the quarterfinals. In turn, Cure lost 0-2 to Dark in the semis, unable to repeat his victory over Dark from the Korean cup finals a day before. The bottom side of the bracket saw SpeCial have the best run among the non-Koreans by making it to the semifinals, but he was taken down 2-0 by ByuN who had enjoyed an undefeated run up until that point.
The grand finals mirrored the Korean cup, with Dark losing in a close five-game series to a strong Terran (VOD). Even the map win orders were the same, with ByuN winning map one, dropping maps two and three, but winning the final two maps to clinch a 3-2 victory. With the victory, ByuN achieved an impressive three-peat in the NA region and won his ninth NA cup overall.
Upset(s) of the day: Similar to the KR cup, ByuN beating Dark was a very good result that was tempered by the fact that Dark doesn't play especially well in online cups. On a related note, Cure beating MaxPax may have looked like an upset when you think about MaxPax's might in open cups, but Aligulac actually saw Cure as the favorite.
Thus, my upset of the day goes to Vindicta, who went through Kiwian and Firefly to reach the quarterfinals, and managed to take a map off SpeCial after he got there.